Golisano Center for Special Needs

at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

  • Center for Development, Behavior and Genetics
  • Inclusive Fitness and Adaptive Design Program
  • Family Behavior Analysis Program
  • Behavior Analysis Studies, MS Program
  • Dual-Diagnosis Inpatient Unit (in development)
  • Behavior Analysis Murine Lab
  • Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment Services

“The parents of these kids fight for everything they have. They fight five times harder than other parents. They fight for insurance coverage, school placement…they shouldn’t have to fight for medical care.”

Henry S. Roane, PhD, BCBA-D
Family Behavior Analysis Program
Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

“They shouldn’t have to fight for medical care.”

But they do. For example, if your pediatrician suspects that your child may have autism, there is a six-month wait for evaluation at Upstate’s Diagnostic Evaluation and Treatment Services. Worse, if your child has autism with severe behavior problems, the wait to be seen in Upstate’s Family Behavior Analysis Program is 100 kids long – or two to three years.

The new Golisano Center for Special Needs is poised to meet the challenges that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families face through enhanced clinical care, education, basic research, and initiatives to promote inclusion and community building. It will provide comprehensive, coordinated and scientifically based medical and behavioral care for children and adolescents.

Our campaign

Just as we did so many years ago, the Upstate Foundation needs the help of the Central New York community, but even more so today. Upstate University Hospital, including Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, no longer receives any operating support from the state of New York. This makes your contribution so important as we work to address obstacles our children with I/DD and their families are facing.

Our goal is to raise at least $3 million to match the gift so generously bestowed by philanthropist Tom Golisano, a Rochester native who founded the company Paychex. This will provide the Golisano Center for Special Needs with the necessary resources to increase the number of children served; decrease wait times; increase programming; and consolidate vital services and areas of collaboration. 


Pledge Form
Name Owner Date  
Campaign Pledge form   Nancy Boyce 1/28/2020 11:58:33 AM    
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Obstacles our children with I/DD and their families are facing

  • Children are waiting too long to receive an evaluation. 
  • Access to treatment services need to be improved. 
  • Children need access to more opportunities. 
  • Services are fragmented. 
  • Limited referral options hinder effective treatment. 

How the new center will help

Increased capacity to serve more children with I/DD. With the ability to recruit additional developmental health care professionals, the Center will increase the number of evaluations performed while decreasing the amount of time families need to wait for an appointment. Children will be linked into services earlier, greatly enhancing their health and life outcomes.

Co-location of services. Services will be centralized in what is currently called the Madison-Irving Medical Center at 475 Irving Avenue in Syracuse. 

Improved opportunities to participate in adaptive sports and inclusive recreation. With the hiring of a therapeutic recreational specialist, the Center will work directly with families, helping them to explore inclusive opportunities and work with them to develop individualized recreation plans based on their child’s needs and interests.

Creation of programs to foster early motor learning and sensory development. 

Promotion of understanding and inclusion.

Enhanced partnerships and collaborations.

Improved family assistance navigating health and educational systems. An educational advocate will work with children and families to help them understand the breadth of available services and help them connect to important resources.

Promotion of research on I/DD. Researchers, including those at Upstate Medical University, are making great strides in understanding the root genetic causes of disabling conditions and they are pioneering new ways to treat challenging behaviors. 

Advancement of professional education that will address critical workforce shortages. Upstate Medical University’s College of Health Professions has instituted a new master’s program in behavior analysis studies that will prepare professionals to enter the I/DD workforce.


Upstate Foundation Receives Gift of $3 Million from Tom Golisano to Establish Center for Special Needs

The Upstate Foundation announced today that it has received a gift of $3 million from Paychex founder and philanthropist Tom Golisano to establish a center for special needs at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Read more…